Officials encourage residents to support local restaurants on Small Business Saturdays | Connecticut News

HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – Small Business Saturday is just a few days away and on Wednesday some local, state and federal officials are urging people to think about restaurants as they seek to support their favorite local businesses.

If you look around, Parkville Market has just about any type of food you could want, like Mexican, Jamaican, Italian, and seafood, and that’s symbolic of the restaurant scene here. in Connecticut generally, but restaurant owners worry their numbers may survive another pandemic winter.

“I grew up in Jamaica. I had my only little restaurant, my only little store, ”says Shawn McDonald, owner of the Jerk Shack.

Shawn has always had a passion for cooking, whether it was the little shop he had in Jamaica or his Hartford restaurant.

He opened Jerk Shack in August 2020 after working for years as a cook in Connecticut. The Parkville Market owner says his vision was to create a space for people like McDonald’s.

“I built this with the idea that some of the people who have worked in the industry their entire lives and never had their own place,” said Carlos Mouta, owner of Parkville Market.

But the pandemic continues to weigh on restaurants.

Business has picked up, but owners fear this will change as temperatures drop and alfresco dining becomes less appealing.

“We’re back. The restaurants are back. People are out again,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal.

“Go out and support a local restaurant. Better yet, discover a restaurant you’ve never tried before, ”Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said.

The diners lunching at the Parkville market agree. Clayton White says he loves to try the local restaurants every time he returns home to visit his family.

“I think they could use more money and their food is generally better. They put more effort into their food,” White noted.

McDonald’s says he’s seen customer support, but that doesn’t mean things have always been easy.

“It’s been a good summer, but overall it’s not like it was before the pandemic,” McDonald continued.

There is a push for more federal relief. Connecticut restaurants have received more than $ 300 million so far, but owners are seeking an additional $ 489 million.

“We will continue to work in Washington so that no more restaurants are lost,” added Scott Dolch, executive director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association.

The Connecticut Restaurant Association says the industry typically generates $ 9 billion in revenue per year, but that’s a drop of $ 2.5 billion during the pandemic.

So far, 600 restaurants have closed, but the association says many are barely hanging on.